Married but sleeping in separate bedrooms

Is technology ruining your relationship?

One of the oft-discussed topics in marriage counselling is the lack of communication between the partners. Despite being physically present, there is a lack of meaningful conversations between husband and wife ever since technology has tightened its grip on the humanity. Smartphones have hijacked our brains and manipulated them to stay connected to the virtual world, ignoring our physical reality.

Technology has been cashing in on our vulnerabilities like loneliness or need for approval by offering virtual gratification, making us so dependent on it to the extent that we are afraid of missing out something important if we stay disconnected from the internet.

The fight over television remote has become a thing of the past with the popularity of streaming services that let you watch programmes on multiple devices. Consequently, our family dynamics too have changed considerably. Our homes aren’t exactly akin to the ones we experienced as children or envisioned before embarking on the marital adventure. Today, it has become normal for a wife and a husband to sleep on the same bed with phones or tablets in their hands, watching different shows before sleeping off.

In the olden days, relationship experts used to advise against the presence of television in the bedroom, warning how it could affect the intimacy between the couple. But the levee has already broken and it’s hard to enact such a rule in our homes in the digital era with its explosion of choices.  

Two digital zombies on the same bed seldom cause any marital friction, but when one of the partners wants intimacy and conversations, there is nothing more annoying than sleeping beside a person with headphones on, lost completely in the infinite scrolling feeds. It makes more sense to sleep alone than being subjected to negative emotions in a space that’s supposed to be meant for de-stressing.

When couples sleep in the same room every day out of obligation, they often take each other for granted. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt much if once in a while they sleep apart. Those who want to bring their phone or tablet to bed should rather sleep on a couch or in a spare bedroom than irritate their partner by being only physically present, thereby ensuring a mutual respect for each other’s wishes.

While transitioning from singledom to marriage, most people are forced to compromise on their individual needs. It’s a trade-off; you give up certain habits in return for a constant supply of physical and emotional intimacy. Once the novelty fades off, people start missing their old selves and habits, and eventually start yearning for personal space. For some, watching their favourite programmes without being bothered is ‘me-time’ that helps them unwind.  

The desire for preserving individuality in marriage is often mistaken as a prelude for the impending danger; some fear the need for personal time signals a person’s apparent lack of interest in her/his partner. The constant pressure on the couples to be together can be overwhelming to a point that some people feel a great sense of relief when their significant other is away, because that’s the only time they get a breathing space.

Although it sounds counter-intuitive, when partners stop trying desperately to meet the conventional expectations, and come to an agreement where each other’s personal space is respected, there will be more appreciation than fights. The focus should be on spending quality time together, all the while taking care of their individual needs.   

The concept of ‘we’ and ‘us’ doesn’t have to be built at the cost of ruining the ‘me’ and ‘you’ in a marriage. Without personal growth, it will be hard to maintain a healthy relationship.  

Do you agree? Please share your thoughts.